Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed an Executive Order to create a LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+) Work Group to promote the shared community values of diversity and civility. The Work Group will work with county agencies, non-profit organizations and other community groups to facilitate an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect throughout Howard County.

The new LGBTQ+ Work Group is charged with the following:
• Conduct quarterly meetings, open to the public, which will include the members of the Work Group, the Administrator of the Office of Human Rights and designated staff
• Organize a series of events and facilitated discussions, in partnership with community and non-profit organizations, to provide opportunities to share concerns, promote mutual understanding and foster stronger relationships to encourage a more inclusive community. This may include things like focus groups, facilitated dialogues, summits and additional outreach efforts
• Advise the County Executive on best practices and strategies to further protect and promote the LGBTQ+ community
• Work with Howard County Government employees to identify best practices to affirm members of the LGBTQ+ community
• Ensure that all meeting minutes are made available to the public on the Office of Human Rights website
• Submit a yearly report to the County Executive by November 1st each year about the work of the Work Group, in addition to current and emerging issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community

The Work Group will include:
• Two representatives from PFLAG Columbia/Howard County
• One representative from HopeWorks
• One representative from the Howard County Human Rights Commission (HRC)
• At least two student representatives
• At least five representatives from the Howard County community (employee and/or resident)

In addition, Office of Human Rights Administrator Yolanda Sonnier will provide leadership, oversight, staffing and logistical support. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Janssen Evelyn will serve as Ball’s liaison for the group.